With $122M, Startup IDRx Intends to Stop Cancer Mutations in their Tracks
IDRx, which is attempting to stop cancer mutations before they start, launched Tuesday with $122 million in oversubscribed Series A financing.
Based in Plymouth, Massachusetts and founded in 2021, the clinical-stage biopharma company aims to create highly selective and aligned drug combinations and purpose-built cancer therapies that will support prolonged and durable responses.
Serial entrepreneur Alexis Borisy, founder of Borisy Labs, incubated IDRx under the premise of “intelligently designed medicines”, or “intelligently designed combinations", for which the moniker IDRx stands.
Co-founder and CEO Ben Auspitz told the Boston Business Journal how this intelligently-designed combination approach could prevent "escape mutations":
"In many cases ... even if you hit a driver mutation, secondary mutations - so-called escape mutations - emerge. Well, couldn't you design a combination that hits not just a primary driver, but also hits the mutations that will emerge under therapy and take that as your goal from the outset?"
With this intention, the company begins life in the biopharma world with an impressive pipeline. This includes enhancements of small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors acquired through licensing agreements with Merck KGaA and Blueprint Medicines. The deal with Merck yielded IDRX-42, for which IDRx has already initiated a Phase I first-in-human trial, while the agreement with Blueprint led to IDRX-73, which is now advancing toward the clinic.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted IDRX-42 Orphan Drug Designation for a type of sarcoma in the gastrointestinal tract called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST).
"At IDRx, we are leveraging deep scientific insights in tumor biology with now available drug engineering capabilities to pioneer novel, selective, intelligently designed combination therapies that aim to hit driver mutations hard, cover escape pathways and provide sufficient therapeutic index and safety profiles for use in early lines of treatment where there is the best potential to provide patients with durable clinical benefits," Borisy, an IDRx co-founder, said in a statement.
The Series A was led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Casdin Capital. Forge Life Science Partners, Nextech Invest and other unnamed investors also contributed to the substantial financing round.
IDRX's founding and leadership team is made up of industry leaders in the life sciences space who have together been involved in developing and commercializing over 10 approved medications. Alongside Borisy is co-founder Robert Forrester who also serves as the CXO of EQRx. Rounding out the co-founding team are George Demetri, M.D. and Nicholas Lydon, Ph.D.
The leadership team includes Jessica Christo as chief development operations officer, Vic Kadambi, Ph.D. as chief product development officer, Shrenik Desai as VP of regulatory affairs, Debbie Johnson as VP of clinical operations and Christoph Lengauer, Ph.D. as scientific adviser.
"We are proud to assemble this expert team of founders and leaders in precision medicine and in GIST and to be launching as a clinical-stage company with our first-in-human study for IDRX-42 initiated," Auspitz noted in the same announcement. "Our goal is to build de novo combinations to serve as transformative cancer treatments."
He elaborated, “IDRx’s approach offers the opportunity to develop more effective cancer medicines for patients through intentionally built treatment combinations, and we are starting with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), where tumor biology is well known but, at the same time, there remains a high unmet medical need."